Science Escapes Wyoming Legislature on Horse Bill

by PATRICIA M. FAZIO as published in the Casper Star Tribune

Recently, I read a report that the gap between the public’s beliefs and scientific fact is rather large — and growing. The gap between the Wyoming Legislature and science might be described as a chasm. A recently passed resolution (HJ0003), describing the wild horse as “feral,” ignores a large body of science that clearly shows the North American wild horse is, in fact, a reintroduced native wildlife species. That’s not opinion. It’s scientific fact. Worse, the term “feral” is a human construct with no biological meaning. But legislatures can do pretty much what they want without dealing with facts.

Modern genetic studies, using mitochondrial DNA and ancient DNA analysis have shown that the horse that disappeared from North America 7,600 years ago is, in fact, the same species that the Spanish reintroduced into America in the 1500s. The modern horse would have gone extinct had it not crossed the Bering Land Bridge before its disappearance from our continent. But it did cross and thrived in Asia and Europe and North Africa until finally returning home to the land of its origin. This is not the opinion of some activist wild horse advocacy group but facts derived via up-to-date science. Does it matter that the American Museum of Natural History agrees with this definition of the horse as a reintroduced native species or that 5,000 years of domestication did not alter the fundamental evolutionary-driven genetics, physiology or social organization of the modern horse, which has been around somewhere between 250,000 and 2 million years – in North America? Apparently not, in the Wyoming Legislature. What’s happened here is that pure politics, attaching a negative term “feral” to a species that is truly wild has, once again, trumped science and fact.

12 comments on “Science Escapes Wyoming Legislature on Horse Bill

  1. Congress has named the wild horses and burros – they are wild horses and burros. That is the term that the government must use, unless proven that the equids that are on our public lands are NOT the wild horses and burros contemplated in the wild horses and burros act. If a reintroduction after the 1500’s makes them non-native, then there most of our wildlife and wild plants will need to be wiped from the “native species” list and we’ll be left with cockroaches ants and rats for “native species”. While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the term “Native American” unless they can trace their occupation to prehistoric times. This is nothing more than a red herring, and easily shown to be an absurd argument. Congress did not say “All those horses who can trace their lineage to prehistoric times” need to be protected. Congress protected the wild horses that were in existence at the time of the act. It would have been absurd for Congress to pass an act to protect only prehistoric horses.

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  2. Unfortunately, these are the same members of Congress who don’t believe we are experiencing global warming either. Makes the job harder, but it will all go like dominos when the truth rises to the top…pray for that…lies are temporary, because they have to keep changing, and sooner or later the liar screws himself…pray for our wild horses and burros..their sacrifice and suffering will end and they will be free.

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  3. This comment was posted on the Casper Star Tribune
    http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/blm-removes-wild-horses-from-checkerboard-lands-in-sw-wyoming/article_f2ee30a2-91d3-5997-a5b3-57aad81aa9b7.html
    ButterCream

    Has anyone read the U.S. Supreme Court decision made in 1976 titled Kleppe v. New Mexico? Google “Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976).” It took away a state’s right to manage federal wild horses and burros and affirmed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (1971, as amended).

    I have asked environmental attorneys to consider this important precedent case, as the State of Wyoming has been repeatedly in violation. The 2003 Wyoming/BLM Consent Decree was legally invalid, as are any other consent decrees where the state has involvement… and in this checkerboard gather case, the state/Governor Matt Mead was an intervenor. We need a test case on the interference of Wyoming in federal wild horse matters. This gather was absolutely illegal, in my view, and Wyoming is out of order. It’s not over yet, folks. The wild horses may have been rounded up, but the legal wheels are still turning. Stay tuned.

    Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D., Statewide Coordinator
    Wyoming Wild Horse Coalition
    Cody

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  4. Federally Not Recognized as Feral. Introduction of outside horses was introduced to keep herds variety instead of inbreeding. As for Wyoming….the dog killing horsemeat man lived there after ran out of ILLINOIS! He went west to find more horses which ultimately KILLED thousands of dogs and cats. We expect the under the radar slaughter folks are running or flying state to state pushing secret items like this to Destroy all US equine and do NOT forget they dont want antislaughter comments on their sites but they constantly get on anyone elses whose anti slaughter to see our next anti slaughter move and what to interfere or twist to their favor. These folks are sneaky however inside slaughter folks who give a heads up on these things keep warning they are working slaughter bills down and attempting to alter the facts online and spread propaganda at every show or meeting they can. May I suggest some folks be cautious in what details are settled publicly until we have wins.

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  5. WHY and HOW is it that this is being brought before the same judge that allowed the roundup in the first place?

    There appears to be disturbing conflict of interests here.

    http://www.wywf.org/nancyfreudenthal.html

    Energy and environmental issues have been Freudenthal’s catalyst for thought. She was a partner in the law firm of Davis & Canon before being nominated to federal judgeship.

    Perhaps the most notorious tidbit of her career springs from partnerships. Her husband, Governor Dave Freudenthal, nominated her along with two others to President Barack Obama for the position of federal judge for the United States District Court of the District Court Wyoming with the missive that “I thought about that long and hard, and the question really came down to (was) should she be penalized for having married me.”

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  6. From THE ATLANTIC
    Andrew Cohen

    How the Department of the Interior Sold Out America’s Wild Horses
    A federal judge in Wyoming is now reviewing a dubious agreement between local ranchers and the BLM that would eliminate millions of acres of wild horse habitat.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/03/how-the-department-of-the-interior-sold-out-americas-wild-horses/274159/

    The federal case came before a federal trial judge, who happens to be married to the former governor of Wyoming. The former governor is no friend to the wild horses. In fact, his tenure was marked by a great deal of animosity toward the herds. The judge’s decision — whether to approve or deny the Consent Decree or suggest modifications to it — could come at any time.

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  7. It appears a real conflict of interest, with facts and science being denied, as well. It’s a very sad time for our magnificent wild horses and for all who share in the compassion and respect for their rights to survive and live free, as “The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act” had intended. What ever happened to the “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” that “contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.”?! Why is justice denied for the many who want nothing more than freedom returned to our iconic wild horses?

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